Sunday, September 18, 2011

Revenge at Bella Terra by Christina Dodd -Loved It!

Eli Di Luca lives in Bella Terra, but now the family vineyard he runs is in financial trouble. Enter Italian magnate Tamosso Conte, who makes a proposition Eli can't refuse: marry his daughter, and Conte will solve Eli's money problems.
Unfortunately, the beautiful Chloe has no intention of getting married without a fight. Soon she discovers Eli's been keeping secrets from her, and the truth will put them both in mortal danger. (Synopsis from Barnes &

Revenge at Bella Terra is a fast paced romantic suspense novel, the second in a series. I love the fact that Ms. Dodd has incorporated two tried and true romance concepts- secret baby and marriage of convenience-into a book you cannot put down. Eli DiLuca is in between a rock and a hard place when it comes to his family winery. He needs 4.5 million dollars and if he marries Chloe Robinson, her father, Tamosso Conte, will give it to him.
In the typical forced marriage novel, the heroine is a shy, retiring, young thing who can't attract a man and whose father finds her a husband. Chloe is feisty, independent, and fully aware of her father's plots. She and her father have only met recently and he is old school, wanting to plan her life. Eli is closed emotionally and focused only on work. He has a conscience, which makes him hesitate to follow through on the marriage, but circumstances force his hand. The chemistry between Eli and Chloe is combustible (in more ways than one). There is just the right amount of backstory to make both characters believable. The supporting characters are fleshed out as well, so all of the interactions add to the plot moving forward rather than distracting from it.
The first book introduced a mystery plot involving a feud between families and a missing item that seems to be a key component to the feud. In this book the mystery is unraveled a little more, but there is still enough left to keep your interest peaked. The set up for the third book made me want to read it NOW, not wait for several months. I will definitely be in line to buy it when it comes out.

Paperback; 431 pages

RPL note: This book is available in the Adult new paperback section. The first book in the series" Secrets of Bella Terra" is also in that section.

Prey by Linda Howard- Disappointing

In this captivating novel of romantic suspense, New York Times bestselling author Linda Howard brings us deep into the wild, where a smart and sexy outdoor guide and her ruggedly handsome competitor must join forces to survive—and avoid becoming what they never expected to be:   PREY   Thirty-two-year-old Angie Powell has always spoken her mind, but in the presence of Dare Callahan she nurses a simmering rage. After all, why give Dare the satisfaction of knowing he can push her buttons and push her to the edge?Three years ago, Dare returned home to rural western Montana and opened a hunting business to rival Angie’s. Complicating matters is the fact that Dare has asked Angie out (not once but twice) and has given her a gift of butterflies in the process. Angie has no patience for butterflies. They only lead to foolish decisions. And now the infuriatingly handsome Iraq war vet has siphoned away Angie’s livelihood, forcing her to close up shop. Before Angie is to leave town, she organizes one last trip into the wilderness with a client and his guest, who wants to bag a black bear. But the adrenaline-fueled adventure turns deadly when Angie witnesses a cold-blooded murder and finds herself on the wrong side of a loaded gun. Before the killer can tie up this attractive loose end, a bear comes crashing through the woods—changing the dark game completely.Luckily, Dare is camping nearby ( Synopsis from Barnes & Noble, com)

Linda Howard is one of my favorite authors. I own every book she has written, so it pains me to say that I really did not like this book. Angie and Dare have minimal interaction throughout the first half of the book. She thinks about him. he thinks about her but they don't really talk to each other. There are some fairly gruesome descriptions of bear attacks and the aftermath. Yuck! Once Angie and Dare meet up, the book gets better, but by then I really didn't care. In all honesty, I have to say I am not a big fan of books where the heroine has to trek through the woods or the steaming hot jungle for a good part of the book so that may have influenced how I felt about this book.  Since Death Angel, the once reliable Ms. Howard has not been the author I have loved for over 25 years. The last 5 books have been 2 good, 2 bad and 1 so-so. I hope she comes back with the next one.

RPL Note: Prey is available in Adult New Fiction. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

This series just gets better and better!

“Hearts are broken,” Lillian Dyson carefully underlined in a book. “Sweet relationships are dead.”
But now Lillian herself is dead. Found among the bleeding hearts and lilacs of Clara Morrow's garden in Three Pines, shattering the celebrations of Clara's solo show at the famed Musée in Montreal. Chief Inspector Gamache, the head of homicide at the Sûreté du Québec, is called to the tiny Quebec village and there he finds the art world gathered, and with it a world of shading and nuance, a world of shadow and light.  Where nothing is as it seems.  Behind every smile there lurks a sneer. Inside every sweet relationship there hides a broken heart.  And even when facts are slowly exposed, it is no longer clear to Gamache and his team if what they've found is the truth, or simply a trick of the light. ( Overview from B&

I had the pleasure of seeing Ms. Penney at author talk recently, and she is just as wonderful to listen to as her books are to read. Her latest book is the seventh in a series set in Canada, primarily in Quebec and the fictional town of Three Pines.
One of the best things about her books is the extraordinary character development. The murder is always central to the plot but the interactions of the people involved in the situation are just as important. In this book, the people of Three Pines are like old friends involved in a messy situation. The murder rips open the scabs on relationships that have been damaged.  Some will re-heal and some appear to be beyond repair.  Ms. Penny gives just enough back story that first time readers will have an enjoyable read, but the long time reader will get the subtle nuances of the book.
Clara and Peter have always had a complicated relationship and I have always had a lot of antipathy towards Peter’s character. In this book, he is his usual jealous self but we see some of the history behind that and I felt some sympathy for him. Poor Clara finally has her own art show and then the body of her childhood “frenemy” turns up in her garden and takes all of the sparkle out of the occasion. Ruth, the town’s crusty poet, is her usual nasty self but in an almost loveable way in some instances. Chief Inspector Gamache and his second in command Jean-Guy Beauvior have made it through a terrible shared experience with their relationship intact. Or have they?
Every new book in this series is a treasure. This book continues in that manner. As a reader, I could not put the book down and when it was done, I was ready for the next one. Being obsessive about reading books in a series in order, I would recommend reading the earlier books, starting with Still Life. However, if that is not possible, a new reader would still find this a great book to read.
RPL Notes: This book is available in the Adult New fiction section.  We will also have the audio version in the near future.  All of the earlier books in the series can be found in Adult Mysteries,